Aviation sector gets additional $84 million to weather COVID-19 impact

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·4-min read
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore.
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Singapore government will commit another $84 million to the aviation sector to support its companies and workers as they weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a media release on Tuesday (29 December), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said that this additional sum is on top of the previous government support for the sector, including the Aviation Sector Assistance Package and the Enhanced Aviation Support Package.

“The aviation sector remains hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of passenger traffic movements at Changi Airport in November 2020 is down 98 per cent year-on-year,” CAAS said in the media release.

“Given ongoing border restrictions and the resurgence of COVID-19 in many countries over winter, air travel will not recover soon. It is therefore critical that we maintain our support for the sector to help aviation companies and workers tide through the crisis.”

$39m for support measures to protect from COVID-19

CAAS said that Singapore’s aviation companies had implemented measures to enable air travel while minimising public health risk.

Such measures require additional infrastructure, equipment and manpower, all of which have added significant cost which cannot be recovered from passengers during this period, said the authority.

To help mitigate some of these costs, the Singapore government will provide funding to support the development, adoption and deployment of innovative technologies and measures to protect airport workers and air crew from contracting COVID-19. These include aircraft and baggage sanitisation systems.

CAAS will continue to waive the fees payable by Singapore-based airlines for their Certificates of Airworthiness, as well as their licence fees payable for providing scheduled air services. The waiver will apply to fees payable between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.

For the same period, there will also be 50 per cent rebate for licence fees payable for ground handling and catering services at Changi Airport and Seletar Airport.

In total, these assistance measures will cost about $39 million.

$20m of additional support for aviation workers

There will also be additional support for aviation workers, many of whom have taken wage cuts due to reduction in working hours, or have been placed on no-pay leave.

Pilots, air traffic controllers and aircraft maintenance engineers who have to pay for their license fees and medical evaluation fees will get a full rebate for fees payable between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.

For aviation workers who want to transition to other jobs in the sector, CAAS will work with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG), NTUC LearningHub and the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster to help at-risk and under-employed aviation workers to enhance their employability and acquire skills to move to other jobs within the sector.

Additional support will be provided for new programmes to be developed for such workers, and more details will be announced in January.

To ensure that there will be sufficient pilots for the eventual recovery, CAAS will work with SSG to provide funding support to Singapore-based airlines to re-train their pilots and keep their skills current.

Together, these measures to help workers amount to about $20 million.

$25m to spur companies to continue innovation, productivity efforts

To encourage companies to continue with their innovation and productivity efforts, CAAS will inject an additional $25 million into the Aviation Development Fund (ADF). This will provide enhanced funding support of up to 90 per cent to companies until the end of FY2021 (31 March 2022) for companies’ initiatives.

CAAS said that these innovation and productivity efforts will “improve the attractiveness of the sector to Singaporeans, support the employability of older workers, and reduce the sector’s reliance on foreign workforce in the longer-term”.

“Even as companies manage the immediate impact of COVID-19, it is important that they continue to invest in projects to improve productivity and build capabilities. This will enable the sector to manage longer-term manpower constraints and be ready for the recovery,” it said in the media release.

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